From Lidless Eyes (time knows no bounds)


Instrumentation: reed quintet

Duration: 9’

Year Composed: 2016

Premiere: March 25, 2017 • Vanguard Reed Quintet

Program Note

From Lidless Eyes (Time Knows No Bounds) was initially inspired by Julio Cortázar's short story, Axolotl. The story gives a first-person account of a man discovering and obsessing over the amphibious Axolotls' secret lives as they waste away in a Parisian aquarium. As he contemplates the uninterrupted infinitude of the Axolotl's life, he recalls that, "The eyes of axolotls have no lids." I found this analogy of lacking the ability to blink as a means of lacking a reference by which to measure time haunting and strangely relatable.

 In contemplating the sort of human behaviors I associate with coping with the mundane, I found myself drawing parallels to commuters on NYC subways. I have frequently observed people’s ability to stare, unblinkingly, into space in these often over-stimulating and claustrophobic spaces. This environmental indifference, epitomized by the rapid passing-by of subway tunnel lights, inspired the trill gesture that defines much of the first half of the piece. In building out the form of the piece, I wanted to treat time similarly - avoiding clear moments of punctuation or progression. The piece's forward momentum has to then be generated by other means, namely by the gradual, imperceptible evolution of musical material.